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Steve Alford issues statement regarding handling of Pierre Pierce case

Apr 11, 2013, 5:30 PM EST

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UCLA’s hiring of former New Mexico head coach Steve Alford was a move that was met with mixed reviews, with many fans hoping that athletic director Dan Guerrero would hire a coach willing to bring back the uptempo style favored by the great John Wooden.

To say the least playing fast isn’t something that Alford’s teams at either Iowa or New Mexico have been known for, with the Mountain West champions ranking 239th in possessions per 40 minutes in 2012-13.

But there was another reason for the negative reactions that came from some, and it’s an issue of more importance than how fast Alford’s teams have (and will) play.

Back in 2002 former Iowa basketball player Pierre Pierce was accused of sexually assaulting a female student, and it would be argued that Alford didn’t do enough in regards to disciplining his player. And when asked about the situation during his introductory press conference at UCLA, Alford stated that he did what he was instructed to do when it came to addressing Pierce’s behavior.

There’s apparently been a change of heart, as both Alford and Guerrero issued statements in regards to Alford’s handling of the Pierce situation Thursday morning.

Steve Alford:

Over the past week, questions have arisen about my handling of an incident involving a charge of sexual assault made against a student-athlete in 2002, while I was coach of the University of Iowa men’s basketball team. At that time, I instinctively and mistakenly came to his defense before knowing all the facts. I wanted to believe he was innocent, and in response to a media question, I publicly proclaimed his innocence before the legal system had run its course. This was inappropriate, insensitive and hurtful, especially to the young female victim involved, and I apologize for that. I have learned and grown from that experience and now understand that such proclamations can contribute to an atmosphere in which similar crimes go unreported and victims are not taken seriously. It’s important for me personally and professionally to make sure Chancellor Block, Athletic Director Dan Guerrero, all of my student-athletes and the entire UCLA community, including our fans, understand that today I would handle the situation much differently, with the appropriate regard and respect for the investigative process and those impacted by it. I look forward to being a Bruin and leading a program that everyone will take pride in, both on and off the court.

Dan Guerrero:

I appreciate and respect Steve Alford’s statement on this issue. Everyone has regrets in their past, but acknowledging them and learning from them shows true character. I was aware of this situation when we hired Steve and concluded that although he made an error in judgment 11 years ago, he had learned and grown from that experience. Our evaluation was based on his entire career, both on and off the court, and that is what led us to make our decision that he was the right coach for UCLA. Steve came to us with a tremendous reputation and record in New Mexico, and I am excited to see how he can build on and grow our men’s basketball program at UCLA. I expect all of our coaches to serve as an example to our student-athletes and the entire Bruin family, displaying true character and strong values. Working with Steve over the last two weeks I am confident that he will demonstrate the leadership we expect of all our coaches.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

  1. seanb20124 - Apr 11, 2013 at 6:06 PM

    I believe his updated statement

  2. imforbigblue - Apr 11, 2013 at 6:50 PM

    Welcome back to being a mid major again UCLA lol

  3. barnesaintnoble - Apr 11, 2013 at 8:21 PM

    UCLA will be fine with this guy, but they will definitely have some competition with Andy Enfield @ USC and the staff he’s putting together. I actually like that hire a lot more than Alford at USC. The issue I have with Alford is his style of play not really fitting in the PAC12 and if he has even a little success and Crean is ever fired @ Indiana, he’s gone.

  4. nawlinsmitty - Apr 11, 2013 at 8:51 PM

    A football school. Will never be anything else. You needed to bring in Bruce Pearl. He has acknowledged his mistake and paid the price. Nothing but an upside to him.

  5. nawlinsmitty - Apr 11, 2013 at 8:57 PM

    Meant to say that it has turned into a football school. It’s basketball days are over because everyone wants to compare every UCLA coach to Wooden. Can’t do that and keep a coach for any period of time.

  6. sdb74 - Apr 11, 2013 at 11:06 PM

    IU has passed over Alford multiple times. Crean will not be getting fired anytime soon either. That being said, if Crean were to suddenly not be the IU coach, Brad Stevens would be.

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